You take a drive down in to Muskegon Heights off Hackley and you hit a few of the pot holes along the way. Hey, it's Michigan, there's going to be pot holes. Take a turn on to Maffett street and about a block down in a pretty well kept little neighborhood is a building that harkens back to a time that's long gone by, but the remanence is still there because of the location, the frontage and the hint that at one time or another, something great sat there on that corner. In fact it did. At one point, you found a local butcher shop, penny candy, household needs and a friendly shop keep who put up the awning every morning and then commenced to sweep the sidewalks and be ready for the daily influx of customers and probably the neighborhood kids who might have had some spare change for that penny candy, or at very least...a bottle or two to return. That was the 30's of course, and over time a lot has changed, but....that feeling....it's never been gone, and it's resurgence is incredible.
Kaja Thornton-Hunter bought the building recently for her group called "Overcoming Barriers". It's a group we've proudly featured on the Muskegon Channel and they have also been the recipient of the "Step it Up Muskegon" award from Attorney Shon Cook and Scherdel Sales and Technology. Their group houses people who need a little extra help as adults and they also work to help them find purpose and meaning in the day to day of life. Kaja is also famous for her seasoning packets which, by the way will be the next big export from Muskegon as they will be hitting the shelves of Meijer Stores across the Midwest this Fall! She's a woman of accomplishment, drive, integrity and for added measure, let's add one more thing in....she's helping bring people together through her café!
The Barney Maffett Place is the office space for Overcoming Barriers down one side, on the other, it's an internet café "The Us Cafe" where people can set up shop for a while and get some business or school work done and in the back...get this...it's a coffee shop featuring Aldea Coffee from Muskegon and it's available on a donation base. There's no set price for a menu item, it's what you care to contribute with a small minimum which is less than half you'd find anywhere else you'd get an equally premium coffee shop. It's an incredibly warm atmosphere that completely harkens back to the day when every block seemed to have a little place like this with beautiful wooden floors, decor that's modern yet reminescent, and when you catch the vibe of what's happening inside, you are instantly grabbed by the real deeper meaning of what's going on.
Kaja had a few minutes in between her multiple hat changes throughout the day, take a listen to our talk about the Barney Maffett Place and The Us Cafe.
Coffee anyone? Sincerley, get down and get in on this. It's a feeling that is coming close to being forgotten as the generations that do remember the corner store and all that it meant are being replaced by younger people who only know the big boxes and ordering online. It's cozy, it's comfy, it's FILLED with purpose and it's exactly what's needed on just about every block anywhere in any community. Sure, you might not be able to bring home a quart of milk and a ham for dinner like back in the 30's but you will bring home a feeling that belongs in every one of us. The feeling that any neighborhood, is our neighborhood and we outta do better at sharing them all among one another. Learn more about Overcoming Barriers by clicking on their image below.